Solar Energy UK
UK solar firms installed 135 MW of capacity in the second quarter of 2021
The UK solar sector has continued to deliver impressive growth in 2021.
Rooftop markets posted extremely positive quarterly and annual figures, with 85MW – almost two-thirds of new capacity installed from April–June 2021 – coming from rooftop installations.
Residential installations during the second quarter of the year were the highest since the Feed-in Tariff scheme ended at the start of 2019.
And large commercial rooftops, of more than 100kW in size, have seen their strongest ever period of sustained growth, supported by a rush of new planning applications that are fuelling the pipeline for the second half of 2021, and into 2022.
135MW of solar PV was deployed from April – June 2021. This is more than double the deployment compared with the same period in 2020, when there was major disruption as a result of the Spring 2020 lockdown imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In total, 310MW of solar was deployed in the first half of 2021. This is a 165% year-on-year increase, again reflecting the impact of the pandemic on deployment last year.
A decrease in groundmount installations reflected a temporary pause in construction of some large-scale solar farms, due to price increases for solar modules.
However, this is still the strongest start to any year in the UK since subsidies for ground-mounted solar PV expired at the beginning of 2017.
The prospect of more than a gigawatt per year of large-scale solar PV being installed each year from 2022 also remains likely, with the pipeline of projects now exceeding 18GW.
The figures suggest that deployment is proceeding faster than government data is able to track it. For example, the latest Renewable Energy Planning Database shows 8.2GW of operational groundmount solar farms.  However, the latest Solar Media Ltd and Solar Energy UK data suggests there is at least 9.2GW of utility scale solar operating around the UK.
Recent research published by Solar Energy UK shows how the UK could deliver 40GW of solar power by 2030, a level consistent with the UK reaching its climate change goal of delivering a net zero economy by 2050. 
Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK, said: “UK solar continues to perform impressively. While the impact of recent price rises can be seen in the groundmount sector, the overall pipeline has grown further. And the residential and commercial rooftop sectors are flying.”
“With the UK hosting the COP 26 climate conference later in the year, now is the time for the British government to show leadership and support the UK solar industry, by committing to a deployment target of 40GW of solar by 2030.”
Finlay Colville, Head of Research at Solar Media Ltd, added: “During the first six months of 2021, solar PV installed in the UK maintained its post-subsidy growth trajectory, in spite of challenging conditions for large-scale solar farm investors.”
“Deployment in this period was almost 60% of full-year 2020 levels, with rooftop installations now offering stable monthly business for a host of regional installers across the UK. There are now more than three gigawatts of large-scale ground-mounted projects ready to get built, once module pricing returns to pre-2021 levels”
The research for these figures is undertaken by Solar Media Ltd., utilising over 10 years of market knowledge and data collection on the UK solar industry. The methodology to size the market combines in-house completed project databases, accreditation lists, import volumes from leading component suppliers, and cross-checking with site developers, investors, and installers.
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